Sir Alex to accept but not share Sven's gift
Sir Alex Ferguson will gladly accept an expensive bottle of wine from Sven-Goran Eriksson on Sunday - but he has no intention of sharing it with the former England coach. The duo had a stormy relationship during Eriksson's five-and-a-half years in charge of the national side and go head-to-head in a Manchester derby for the first time this weekend as resurgent City face a United side who are without a win so far this term. Eriksson is reportedly ready to mark the occasion by splashing out £400 on a bottle of vintage red to hand the Red Devils boss. But if he thinks Ferguson will open it during their post-match chat, the Swede is sadly mistaken. 'I am not aware of the wine,' he said. 'If he gives me a present I will accept it, but I will not be sharing it with him. I will take it home instead.' Given their past history, Ferguson steered clear of offering any major personal analysis of Eriksson's managerial record, preferring instead to focus his attention on City as a whole. Eriksson, he noted, is the Blues' 12th manager during his own near 21-year stint as United boss - a tenure which reached a glorious peak on his side's last visit to Eastlands in May when a single-goal win effectively sealed his ninth championship crown. 'Last year was amazing,' he laughed. 'They spent a fortune on those blue-and-white scarves for all the fans and they never had a shot at goal, or tried to beat us. 'We were trying to win the league, and they were quite happy.' Ferguson's assessment may be stretching a point slightly, given Edwin van der Sar saved a late Darius Vassell penalty which would have earned City a draw. Nevertheless, the relatively timid manner of that defeat hastened Stuart Pearce's departure. Despite public doubts over his record with England, Eriksson has had an immediate impact at the Blues. Successive wins over West Ham and Derby mean even if City were to lose on Sunday, they would still head their local rivals in the table. Yet as Ferguson is only too aware, success brings its own pressures - and given the desperation of the City fans to end a 31-year trophy drought, the heat is on. 'It is a big season for every City manager that comes along, especially so this time because they have spent a bagful of money on players,' he said. 'No matter what people say, there is an expectation now because they have won their first two games. They have to manage that. That is more difficult.' Having noted Eriksson had talks with Aston Villa and 'another club' he opted not to name, Ferguson is not surprised to see the Swede returning to life as a manager in England. What has caught him slightly on the hop is the sheer number of unknown players Eriksson has brought in from abroad, which makes planning for Sunday's encounter slightly difficult. 'I know about (Martin) Petrov and (Rolando) Bianchi,' he said. 'They were on the radar screen for everyone for a long time. But I don't know about the rest of them. Time will tell.' Despite investing heavily himself this summer, Ferguson finds his own options restricted. Cristiano Ronaldo begins a three-match ban following his dismissal at Portsmouth - joining Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves on a long list of absentees. Hargreaves' recovery from a tendinitis problem is proving frustratingly slow, although Ferguson is confident the £18million summer arrival from Bayern Munich will not need to have an injection. 'We think we are on the right road to sorting it out,' he said. 'The better prevention is to do it naturally. 'Owen has been training reasonably well, and we are prepared to go along that course until it deteriorates. If that happens - in any way, shape or form - we have to consider an injection.' Ferguson will place his trust in Carlos Tevez - who performed creditably on his debut at Portsmouth, setting up Paul Scholes for United's opener. But while Tevez's fellow Argentinian Gabriel Heinze is fit, it appears highly unlikely Ferguson would name him in his squad just 23 hours before a Premier League panel will determine whether the 29-year-old should be free to join Liverpool.